This idea has been many years in the making.
I first visited the Philippines many years ago with my bicycle and as I looked out from land at all the islands off in the distance, it didn’t take me too long to start dreaming about what it might be like to hang up the wheels, find a boat and hop around from island to island.
Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t know how to sail and I didn’t know a thing about boats. So I returned to the US, started learning to sail and even took on an apprenticeship in boatbuilding. That path took me on to some great experiences including the building of a Chinese junk for the SF Maritime Museum, my catamaran which I sailed through Baja, and Blaze of Glory – where the discovery channel filmed me build a boat in just 48hours.
But I never came back to the Philippines to finish that dream. I’m overdue to get this one off my list.
The idea is to sail west from Panay and stop off at islands along the route for clues. Caluya, Semirara, Mindoro, Busuanga, Coron, south to Palawan and Shark’s Fin Bay.
Sailing is important. It’d be easier to do this by motorboat, burn diesel, and never worry about the wind. But sailing puts you in touch with the world around you.
But this is not something you can just order up off the internet. I’ve never heard of someone doing a trip like this before. I’ll have to travel to the Philippines and rent or buy a sailboat when I get there.
The tourist island of Boracay at the north tip of Panay is my first port of call. While motorboats have taken over the fishing industry in most of the country, there remains a thriving group of traditional sailors giving rides to tourists at sunset. This is one of the last enclaves of traditional working sailors left in the world, and it seems to be a great place to start.